Overreactions, 1/48 Edition: Thomas Vanek is all man, baby.

20130120 vanek

There may have been some reason to worry about the fact that the Buffalo Sabres were about to play their first game in nine months. Of course, their opponent, the Philadelphia Flyers, had a chance to shake off their rust beforehand, and they were motivated by their loss to Pittsburgh the day before.

Didn’t really matter.

Sabres LW Thomas Vanek had a career night pitching in on every goal as Buffalo dispatched the Flyers with a 5-2 victory in front of a national audience on NBC. The Austrian superhunk scored twice and added three assists to take over the NHL scoring lead on day 2 of the 2013 season.

“That’s one team I really like to beat, and it’s one team I really hate to lose to, so I feel pretty good right now,” coach Lindy Ruff said after the game.

Buffalo took an early lead on a powerplay goal by Sabres newbie Steve Ott. Philadelphia stormed back early in the second, scoring twice to take the lead. Then it was all Vanek. With less than five to go in the second, he deked Ilya Bryzgalov out of his jockstrap to tie the game. Then Vanek added helpers on a go-ahead goal by Tyler Myers and the insurance marker by Cody Hodgson late in the third.

He also added an empty netter for good measure, and linemate Jason Pominville tallied three assists.

“We scored timely goals,” Vanek said after the game. “It’s nice to get a win obviously, but if we would’ve lost, we would’ve talked about ‘It’s just one game with many more to go,’ so it’s the same mindset really.”

Buffalo was the beneficiary of two goals wiped out by the officials, one for goaltender interference and another because the official blew the whistle prematurely. Ryan Miller stopped 27 other shots to earn the win.

Sitting atop the Northeast Division, the Sabres head to Toronto tonight for tomorrow’s game against the Leafs.

  • First and foremost, kudos to the Sabres PR department for the additional access for bloggers this season. A few selected, premier sites were given full locker room access, this esteemed one included. There’s also open voting for the three stars of the game, which I will now include my selections and the actual ones in each Overreactions. Pretty surreal experience for me personally, but I’m not complaining.
  • Tyler Myers had the game winning goal and was overall terrible for the entirety of the night. Ended up with a team high 23:11 TOI and only credited with two giveaways. Was extremely shaky all game. If he’s gonna be the horse, he has to tighten it up.
  • Scott Hartnell is a piece of shit. Any time your team faces him, remind your players “Heads up, don’t duck,” because they’re gonna end up being boarded at some point.
  • Mikhail Grigorenko got one of the biggest cheers during introductions, and despite not getting an exorbitant amount of ice time (11:13) he did look the part. His behind the back pass to set up Steve Ott alone in front is one of those plays that is just dripping with savvy. It’s going to be tough to actually evaluate him in five games with such a short sample of work, so I’m thinking they’re not really evaluating and have already made a decision.
  • Speaking of introductions: overall, the intros are still lacking. The Flyers-specific pre-intro video was great, and should be a regular thing. The actual intro video, with a Dropkick Murphys song written for the Boston Bruins, was alright, but it’s not where it can or needs to be. And whoever is spinning music needs to learn some timing. And new music.
  • Cody Hodgson got a lot of praise after the game, and he was huge in the third period. But honestly, on the two Flyers goals, he’s gotta do better. The first was created after he lost a puck battle in the neutral zone, there was a bad line change and the Flyers capitalized. Then Claude Giroux’s powerplay goal, which was near unstoppable for Ryan Miller, had a beautiful lane created because Hodgson had floated to the middle instead of shutting off the passing lane to Giroux. He redeemed himself obviously, but I wasn’t too pleased with him until he found his stride later in the second.
  • John Scott: Three shifts, 2:10 TOI. This can’t last forever. Can’t.
  • Speaking of toughness, Drew Stafford took some licks going after Scott Hartnell, but credit to him for standing up for his teammates. The best thing having a guy like Scott can possibly do is teach other guys to man up and do it themselves. Then you don’t need guys like #32 sitting on the bench taking up space.
  • Christian Ehrhoff and Andrej Sekera were easily the two best defensemen on the night. Sulzer, Regehr and the aforementioned Myers were very spotty. Jordan Leopold was decent enough to not get lumped in with the rest.
  • And one more thing: during the introductions, they had a nice graphic with the player’s bio on the scoreboard. They still haven’t corrected the fact that Jason Pominville has Canadian flag, Marcus Foligno has a US flag and Robyn Regehr has a Brazilian flag. They don’t wear those flags, why do you attribute them to them? Especially Foligno, who is a dirty traitor to the union.

3MI Three Star Selections (vote entered with 10:00 remaining in 3rd, score 2-2)
1. Thomas Vanek, Buffalo
2. Ilya Bryzgalov, Philadelphia
3. Steve Ott, Buffalo

Official Three Stars of the Game
1. Thomas Vanek, Buffalo (2 goals, 3 assists)
2. Jason Pominville, Buffalo (3 assists)
3. Steve Ott, Buffalo (goal)

Quote of the night:

“To be honest, you always worry about how long it’s going to take to score your first one. To get that monkey off your back right away, it felt pretty good.” — Buffalo Sabres C Steve Ott

Posted on January 20, 2013, in Sabres/NHL and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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